House prices stabilize, but condos buck the trend

May 14, 2019 | Last updated on May 14, 2019
2 min read

Canada’s housing resale market seems to be stabilizing—good  news for clients selling a home, depending on their locations. However, for those looking to buy, house price increases might continue to be a limiting factor, particularly for clients shopping for condos.

National Bank reported Tuesday that, while its house price index dropped in April for the seventh consecutive month, the drop is small, at 0.03%.

The moderation in declining prices is partly attributable to Toronto, where the index edged down only 0.2% over the last seven months, compared to 1.8% for the index as a whole, because of condo sales.

That housing segment is up 2.1% over the same period, and the upward trajectory is expected to continue.

“Judging from the active-listings-to-sales ratio, market conditions on the condo market have been tight over the last three years, suggesting that the upward trend in condo prices in Toronto is unlikely to be interrupted in the near future,” the National Bank report said.

That tightness was further explored in a CIBC housing report published Tuesday. It suggested housing demand could be stronger than suggested by official figures, which underestimate the number of Canadian households.

Specifically, the figures undercount student housing demand. Census data excludes students, who represent demand for housing despite returning to their parents’ homes when the academic year is over.

Leaving out this demand results in undercounting the total stock of Canadian housing demand by up to 300,000 units, the CIBC report broadly estimated.

Further, the number of students has been rising much faster than the the overall population, the report said, so students’ relative impact on growth in housing demand is notable, predominantly in cities with major post-secondary schools.

Also published today was a National Bank report with good news for Canadians who are already homeowners and set to renew their mortgages this year: potential mortgage payment shock has almost vanished.

In January, the bank estimated that renewing mortgagors would face rate increases of 70 to 90 basis points in 2019—a view it has now dropped, as mortgage rates decreased this spring.

“With the recent drop in mortgage rates, those households will be renewing at rates barely above their previous ones,” the report said.

Along with falling rates, households are also benefiting from a “stellar” jobs market and rising disposable income, it added.

For full details, read National Bank’s housing price index reportCIBC’s housing demand report and National Bank’s mortgage renewal report.